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Social Worker Certificate Program Information

Get information on certificate programs in social work. See the prerequisites and curriculum while learning about state licensing requirements for social workers.

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Essential Information

Social workers are trained individuals who help people in their communities deal with such issues as unemployment, inadequate housing, substance abuse, familial problems and mental illness. In order to gain social worker certification and become eligible to work in the field, individuals must earn at least a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. A master's degree in social work is usually required for state licensure as a clinical social worker.

Social worker certificate programs, which may be offered at the bachelor's or graduate level, cover human behavior, social environments and laws, communication techniques, social welfare policy and more. Students gain basic training in social policy and justice used with organizations in a variety of communities. Some programs offer training in specialized fields.

After earning their certificate, graduates may earn social worker certification or licensure to become registered social workers in a specific field, such as family services, child welfare, gerontology, policy planning or public health. Additional certificate programs that are similar to those for social workers include programs for substance abuse counselors, family counselors and public policy planners.

Educational Prerequisites

Social worker training and studies certificate programs are offered through bachelor's and post-graduate degree programs. Many certificate programs require students to have prerequisite coursework in the social sciences, such as sociology, psychology or anthropology, as well as English and mathematics.

Program Coursework

The core curriculum for social worker certificate programs includes a general overview of social work; however, elective courses are also available for additional training in a specific area. In addition to social work field practice, many programs also cover such topics as these:

  • Sociology
  • Social work with individuals
  • Human behavior
  • Cultural diversity
  • Research methodology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Social workers hold jobs in a variety of environments, and they are trained to offer professional advice on personal problems, finances, emotional disorders and more. Combining a social worker certificate with a bachelor's or master's degree in social work can prepare students for entry-level positions or career advancement opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job growth in the social work field would grow by 25% from 2010-2020, which was faster than average. The mean annual salary for mental health and substance abuse social workers was $43,340 as of May 2012, reported the BLS ( Healthcare social workers earned an average of $51,460 per year, while child, family and school social workers averaged $45,300 annually.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education

Requirements to become a licensed or certified social worker vary by state; however, students may need additional clinical experience to become a clinical social worker. Social workers are also required to complete continuing education credit hours to stay licensed, which are offered through private and nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities. The Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work programs are also available for students pursuing career opportunities in supervising, management, research, teaching or consulting social work positions.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics